Mediation & Consulting Philosophy
There is much discussion in the mediation field about the variety of mediation styles. You will hear the terms facilitative, elicitive, transformative, directive, and evaluative. The boundaries amongst these approaches are not fixed or clear and often a mediator will use a mix of these styles, depending on the situation and the needs and desires of the parties.
Generally, I would first describe my approach as facilitative. My goal is to help the parties find their way through the thicket of the conflict to the open meadow of resolution by facilitating effective and constructive communication. I sometimes use the term activist mediator because I engage actively with the parties in their problem-solving. My practice can include approaches that would be described as transformative. In this regard, I follow the parties' preferences. There is a continuum from basic dispute settlement to relationship transformation. Sometimes parties just want to settle the matter. Sometimes they will want to transform their relationship and use mediation to accomplish profound personal and relationship change. I consider it my job to support the parties in what they want to achieve. My approach will vary according to their goals.
When working with an organization, whether to mediate a particular dispute, to facilitate meetings, or to conduct an assessment and make recommendations for improving its conflict management capacity, here are some fundamentals underlying how I will work with you:
- There’s a saying, “Everything that you add to the pot makes the soup taste different than if you had not.” I understand that, coming into an organization, I will affect the organization in several ways, unavoidably. My goal is to come in gently, not like a bull in a china shop but more like a cat in a china shop. I want to be sure that what I add makes a positive contribution. To do this, I have to listen well, pay attention, and learn.
- Conflict is not a sign of failure; poorly managed conflict is failure. Poorly managed conflict is expensive. One of my goals is to help organizations become less conflict-averse and more conflict-competent. Conflicts and problems, when addressed well, become an organizational resource that can be used to improve systems and relationships and the bottom line.
- Identifying the source of a problem is key; for example, sometimes what appears to be a relational problem between two individuals is actually a structural problem. Fix the structural problem, and the relationship improves.
- Fundamentally, people want to get along, want things to work, want to resolve problems. People want to be successful. Sometimes they need help. When given the right tools and support, they’ll usually be on board to fix the problem or resolve the dispute.
- Effective communication is the key to unlocking thorny problems and making good decisions.
- My work with you is a partnership. We learn together.